Way, Way Norway

July 21, 2010

Fjord

I recently had the opportunity to visit Norway, as two friends and classmates of mine from St. Olaf College were getting married in Gjøvik, Norway (the bride’s hometown). My best friend and I took this opportunity to go early and explore more of this beautiful country that our college is so deeply rooted in.

I have always loved Norway, as my significant other has Norwegian roots and would often spend summers there visiting his family — or, most recently, interviewing for a job as a helicopter pilot at his father’s company, which performs search and rescue missions off the Norwegian coast. I’ve always loved Norway for its amazing beauty, but this visit gave me many more reasons to love this country that’s such a part of Minnesota’s heritage.

First off is the World Cup. Being in a Scandinavian country during this time showed me a side of the sports world I have never seen before. In Oslo, at any given time, there were crowds of people gathered at every location that had a TV. There were huge movie theater-style screens showing the games on what felt like every street corner. If there wasn’t room inside the gated-off areas or tents, people would gather on the hillsides to watch. There was never a shortage of beer or excitement. The World Cup doesn’t seem to be quite as popular here, but after being overseas, it is clear to me that we are definitely missing out on something!

Next is the grafitti that was found EVERYWHERE. Oftentimes grafitti here gets covered up immediately, but in Norway, it is looked at as a form of art. They leave it on the buildings as if it becomes a part of the building and what defines it. There were people in public squares doing grafitti as people gathered around to watch and tip them for their work. It was definitely interesting to see and made me appreciate the work and talent that is behind it.

Last but not least is the laid-back vibe I felt everywhere we went. If the sun was shining, every patch of grass in the city would be covered with people basking in the sun, hanging out with friends, grilling on disposable grills (very popular there) or reading a book. It reminded me of Lake Calhoun, but on a much bigger scale. It wasn’t just one area, it was the whole city. Everyone would just do their own thing and mind their own business. It felt so non-judgmental. I feel like I could have been walking down the street in the craziest outfit imaginable and no one would have stared. It was very comforting.

Coming from the rushed lifestyle in the U.S. that most of us seem to lead, it felt nice to slow it down a few notches and be able to enjoy the simple things. Being around the Arctic Circle, warm and sunny days are hard to come by in Norway, but definitely don’t go unappreciated. This laid-back lifestyle was apparent in the many fjords of Norway as well. There were many little towns that consisted only of a church, some houses and a few stores nestled into the mountainsides of the gorgeous and breathtaking scenery. The fjords were so quiet and peaceful. It wasn’t hard to see why people would enjoy escaping some of the craziness in the world to go and live the simple life in the fjords of Norway.

Norway was an opportunity for me to explore one of the many different worlds out there and has left me wanting to see more. I will leave you with these images of Norway.

Crowd watches World Cup in Oslo

Gotta love a good fjord

Scandos love their grafitti

Hanging out in Oslo